Saturday, May 14, 2011

LiteFlux LF3XT Review

LiteFlux is a Chinese brand of flashlights that stand out from the horde of aluminum tubes sent across the Pacific Ocean to these shores. They make (or made, they are sold out everywhere right now) three lights: a single AA, a single CR123a, and a single AAA light. All of them have the same basic design and the same two tier UI. They are, by in large, among the nicer production lights out there and if they are truly no longer being made, it might be worth it to track them down.

The only issue is that these lights are for high end users only. These are not lights that you can hand to a friend and expect them to get anything out of them, not even light, sometimes. So it goes back to an age old question: performance or useability. A racecar undoubtedly outperforms your Jeep Wrangler, but the Wrangler's simple design and simple, widely available parts makes it possible to keep one running well after the original owner has retired from a job and maybe even driving. The question is, which do you want: the flashlight equivalent of the racecar or the flashlight equivalent of the Wrangler?

Here is the closest thing to a product page for LF3XT. A good street price for the light is around $55-65. Here is a review of the LF3XT. Here is a CPF review. Here is a photo of my LF3XT:

IMG_0002

This is not a looker. It is no Spy 007 or Haiku. But it really works. It does a lot of things well and allows a degree of customization that matches anything on the market without a USB port.

There is an alternate body tube, an 2xAA body tube. The light comes in probably the nicest presentation box I have ever seen for a flashlight. It is like something that you'd find in a package from Bridge City Toolworks. It comes with some lube, a few o-rings, and a lanyard. Not sure how much that is worth, but I still have the box even though I sold the light a while ago.

Design: 2

The light does a lot of things really well. It tailstands nicely. It has a discrete and highly functional wire clip. It has a gently scalloped bezel. It is a nice diameter and plenty small. The clicky is an electronic clicky so it does sip battery power when off, but it provides good feedback when activated. The grip is decent and the materials are not too bad at all. For a $60 it does a lot right.

Fit and Finish: 2

The threads were well cut as was (was being the key, here, see below) the knurling. The lens was clean and the LED well-centered. The light does whine at a very high frequency on the highest settings. Some people can hear it, others can't...it is very subtle. They have fixed this problem in newer lights, but still it is there. It does not affect the performance in any way. The finish, BTW, was tough, tougher than the average HAIII I have had on my lights, but not as tough as Surefire's HAIII or Cerakoted lights.

Grip: 1

The light is a little portly, but that is okay. It is the SHAVED knurling that kills the grip. Some lights are so heavily knurled you can use them as a file. Others have slightly shaved knurling where the pointy peaks are removed. This light took the shaving a bit too far. There was really no meaningful texture whatsoever.

Carry: 2

I liked the wire pocket clip a lot. Some people won't, they'll think it is flimsy. Its not, but they'll think that (just like some folks think that liner locks stink). The light was just the right size to sleep in a jeans coin pocket and when none was available the clip worked on both thick and thin material. It is a little portly in diameter, but that is because of the body tube walls are thicker than normal.

Output: 1

This is not a screamer. Your not going to blind your neighbor. It is adequately bright, nothing more or less.

Runtime: 1

Runtime is pretty much standard for this kind of light, circa 2009. Around an hour on high, 20 hours on super low. We have enough lights now, built and designed since the Liteflux came out, that these runtimes are average.

Beam Type: 2

Surprisingly, the reflector is quite deep. It makes the beam much "throwier" than you'd expect for a light this size. I am not suggesting that it is a throw light, but for a single cell light less than 4 inches long (and not made by Don McLeish), it can hit stuff a ways away.

Beam Quality: 1

The beam is a bit cool. I am not too pleased with the tint, either. It is not as bad as the Preon's dance club purple, but it is noticeably colored. The big issue is that the beam, while spot free, is a pronounced egg shape.

UI: 2 or 0

Okay, so here is where the rubber meets the road with this light. It has two ENTIRELY different UIs. The basic (labeled: "compact") UI is a pretty standard, click, double click UI. It is okay. I prefer even simpler UIs like that on the Haiku or Surefire G2X Pro. The other UI is a fully programmable UI (FUI). It is dauntingly complex. Here is the programming tree:



It looks like a diagram from a safety manual for a nuclear reactor. Seriously, my grandmother borrowed the light and accidentally dropped into the FUI. She couldn't even get it to turn on (it was on, just very, very low). This happened a few more times and while I was able to get it back on track, it was a pain in the ass. If you want to control EVERYTHING, this IS the UI for you. If you want to turn on the light and get...um...light, this IS NOT the UI for you.

Hands Free: 2

With a great little tailcap design, this light tailstands well. The clip also prevents it from rolling.

Total Score: 14/20

At the time, this was a great light. Now, its output and runtime are starting to look a little old. It still is more than adequate, but not great. HOWEVER, and this is a big issue, if you want precise control over the light's output, this is your light (and the score raises to a 16/20). It can do things that no other light can do without being hooked up to a computer. I don't want (nor do I think many people NEED) that much control, so this is a good, but not great light. If you disagree then I think, even if the light is out of production, it is well worth tracking down. No UI is more customizable than the one this light uses, other than that of the Indium Smart (good luck finding one of those) and the hideously janky Nextorch.

1 comment:

  1. Another light that is highly customisable is the armytek predator. It's currently only available in the 18650/2xcr123 format, but there are suggestions they are working on other battery formats.

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